Academic Continuity Guide

Teaching and Supporting Students During Times of Disruption

During unplanned events or emergency closures, there are common issues that will affect on-campus classes if there is an inability to attend class, including diminished class time, limited internet access, and uncertain travel plans of students, professional staff and faculty. This guide provides options for faculty to teach and support students in times of disruption, and aims to complement administrative and departmental guidelines.

Teaching and Technical Support for Faculty

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  • Contact Information

    Need help with teaching online? The Distance Learning Institute provides consultations for faculty who leverage online technologies and teaching techniques to create engaging course experiences. To schedule a consultation, contact Johnny Orr.

    Creating alternative content and assignments? The LIFE team in conjunction with University Libraries will help faculty create alternative course materials and assignments. To schedule individual or request group consultations, contact the LIFE team at

    Need support? In addition to the help desk, the Learning Platforms Team can provide training and support for any of the technologies featured in this guide. To learn about training opportunities, see below.

Live Technology Training Sessions

These live training sessions, conducted by UMIT staff, cover how to use various technology platforms that can be used to facilitate online instruction and communication with students. Each of the sessions have been scheduled via the virtual conferencing platform Zoom. View the quick-start guide to use Zoom here. Click on each week to expand the schedule and access the Zoom link for each session. The following schedule is subject to change.

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  • Recordings of Previous Training Sessions

    Blackboard 101: This session will focus on rapidly becoming familiar with the basic features of Blackboard Learn, including course availability, navigating the site, uploading content, previewing as a student and adding TAs or co-instructors to a course. View this session recording.

    Blackboard + Zoom: This session focused on learning how to integrate Zoom into your Blackboard course and host live conferencing sessions. Topics included creating a Zoom link within your course, scheduling a meeting and editing meeting settings, inviting and managing meetings with your students using the Zoom tools. View this session recording.

    Blackboard Assignments and Assessments: This session will focus on learning how to create, deploy and grade different types of assessments (assignment and tests) through Blackboard Learn. View this session recording.

    Respondus Lockdown / Monitor: This session will focus on learning how to set up Respondus Monitor and LockDown Browser to proctor remote exams. View this session recording.

DLI Open Forum Sessions

The Distance Learning Institute at the University of Miami enhances access to academic and training programs throughout the campus and community, via partnerships with UM's instructors and South Florida's corporate trainers. To help our University faculty create online courses that engage learners, we are offering open-forum sessions that will focus on transitioning to a successful online learning model. Our Instructional Designers will be available to answer questions and give insight into the best ways to use various educational tools in your online classrooms.

We will focus our conversations around online teaching strategies and course design challenges, including effective pedagogical applications of technologies like Blackboard and Zoom. Below is our current schedule (subject to change):

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  • April 8, 2020 - May 8, 2020

    April Macadangdang: (Monday & Wednesday, 9:00 – 10:00 AM) 

    Topics Covered:

    • The Power of Online Teaching (Three Facets of Online Teaching, Build A Virtual Support Community, Practical Maneuvers)

    Ariella St. Rose (Monday & Thursday, 10:00 – 11:00 AM)

    Topics Covered:

    • Moving Your Classes Online: How to Prepare & Support Learners & Instructors
    • Creating Community & Engagement in Online Courses
    • Onboarding Online Learners for Success: Examining Orientation and Readiness Assessment Practice

    Hanna Fife (Tuesday & Thursday, 1:00 – 2:00 PM)

    Topics Covered:

    • Designing for Understanding: Discuss designing your course to provide an optimal student learning experience. 
      • Creating a User-Friendly Online Classroom
      • Utilizing the Most Important Multimedia Principles to Ensure Your Students Understand and
      • Retain Crucial Information from Your Teaching

    Nick Armas (Tuesday & Friday, 2:00 – 3:00 PM)

    Topics Covered:

    • Online Learning 101 (Don't Panic, Simple Design Tactics, Communication and Consistency)
    • Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning (Visual and Auditory Channels, The 12 Principles of Multimedia Learning)

    Ron Rodriguez (Tuesday & Thursday, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM)

    Topics Covered:

    • Blackboard Navigation
    • How to Build Engaging Assignments/Discussion Boards
    • How to Manage Your Grade Book
    • How to Engage Your Learners (Multimedia Elements)
    • How to Incorporate Engaging Content in Your Course

    Cate Dowman (Wednesday & Friday, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM) 

    Topics Covered:

    • How to Make Your Online Content Accessible – The Fundamentals

    Dr. Johnny Orr (Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 1:00 – 2:00 PM) 

    Topics Covered:

    • Open Forum – Online Course Development Best Practices Overview, Discussion and Q&A

Remote Teaching Strategies

The following sections highlight key areas to consider when transitioning to remote teaching. Click on each title to expand and review the further information and resources shared.

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  • Communicating With Your Students (Asynchronous)

    Communicating with students early and frequently is crucial in maintaining classroom consistency. There are multiple University resources that allow faculty and students to send messages to students asynchronously (not in real-time) giving students time to review the message and respond when possible. We recommend using asynchronous communication where possible in order to avoid scheduling issues and offer flexibility for your students during times of disruption.

    Provide a communication strategy statement: Inform and make students aware how you plan to communicate with them. Establish preferred methods of contact (e.g. email, Blackboard Announcements), expectations on response time. Use existing communication approaches that are familiar to students.

    Post announcements in Blackboard: Use Blackboard’s Announcements tool to send class-wide notifications to all enrolled students in your course. Post time-sensitive information such as due dates for assignments and projects, changes to your syllabus, corrections of materials or exam schedules. View this short video and guide to become familiar with announcements.

    Create a Q&A discussion forum: Create a Blackboard Discussion Board Forum and encourage students to post questions for you and other students to respond to. This short video and guide describes how to set up a forum.

    Send bulk or individual emails: Communicate with your class using Outlook to set clear expectations of how to prepare for class, or to communicate with individual students. Consider FERPA policies and avoid sharing grades via email.

  • Hosting a Virtual Class or Virtual Office Hours (Synchronous)

    Continuing to teach, advise and mentor students face-to-face in an off-campus learning environment is possible with virtual conferencing tools available at the University. Faculty can host a virtual class session or virtual office hours during a specific time window and share resources real-time with students. However, scheduling live events across courses may become difficult during periods of closure, particularly if students are travelling, are located in different time-zones, or have limited access to WiFi.

    Share virtual conferencing instructions: Inform and make students aware if you plan to host virtual classroom sessions or virtual office hours through Blackboard or another conferencing tool. Confirm frequency, timings and technical expectations of students - and share Home Wi-Fi FAQs and Tips. Add a static page like a Blackboard Blank Page or Item or update this information within your syllabus.

    Host a virtual class: To continue teaching at the same time of your class schedule, you can host a virtual class via Blackboard or Zoom. Within all courses, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a real-time video conferencing tool that lets you schedule multiple sessions, present slides, add files and share applications, poll students, record attendance and use a virtual whiteboard to interact with students. This short video introduces how to navigate Ultra within your course, with more robust information on the Blackboard website. Zoom is real-time video conferencing tool that integrates with Blackboard and includes similar features, including screen sharing, recording, breakout rooms, chat, adaptive streaming, and more. Learn how to use Zoom in Blackboard, view short videos, view UMIT guidance, and this resource for teachers educating via Zoom. For any virtual class, ensure the session has a clear agenda and purpose.

    Record and share class sessions: Both Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate Ultra allow you to record class sessions. You may want to consider recording your live sessions and making the recordings available to students, which will allow students to replay the session as review, or watch for the first time if they were unable to attend live. You can also pre-record lectures using these tools. Learn how to record through Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. For both Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom, keep in mind that recordings may take up to 24 hours to process and appear following your meetings.

    Manage office hours: In addition to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom, Microsoft Teams can be used for synchronous communication with students including group chat, private chat, video-conferencing with screen sharing, file sharing, and any other collaboration needs. Start up a chat, call or video conference with a student via the web-browser, mobile or desktop Microsoft Teams app.

  • Preparing and Revising Course Materials

    Preparing course materials for offline use will help limit course disruption and connect students with the necessary resources. By digitizing your course materials, students can independently access materials at their own pace, particularly if faculty and instructional support are unable to respond quickly.

    Digitize and back up course materials: Become familiar with the process of scanning, digitizing and backing up of course materials (e.g. syllabus, lecture slides, assignment instructions and website pages). The mobile app, Adobe Scan can help capture and convert documents, forms, and whiteboards into high-quality Adobe PDFs. Ensure resources are saved on cloud-based platforms like Google Drive or OneDrive, with external hard-drives used as a secondary backup. 

    Distribute resources: To share resources with students, follow existing practices you and your students are familiar with. Share resources via email, Blackboard or Google Drive or OneDrive. Use consistent and descriptive naming conventions for your resources. This video playlist and guide identifies various ways to share resources with your students on Blackboard.

    Make resources accessible to all learners: Ensure that all students are able to access your content and easily participate with course materials. Provide mobile-friendly, text-based alternatives if large files (video, images, audio) cannot be downloaded. Create PDF versions of webpages. Encourage students to download the resources once they are made available.

  • Creating and Locating New Course Materials

    There are various resources available to faculty to create new or use existing course materials. These course materials can therefore inform learning activities or assignments you may develop.

    Create a pre-recorded lecture: In addition to Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Blackboard Learn's Kaltura Screen Capture allows faculty to capture and upload a screen recording of a presentation, and host other videos within Blackboard directly. If you record audio, video lectures or lab demonstrations ahead of time, via a webcam or a personal device that requires some editing, use the introductory video-editing tool, Adobe Premiere Rush, before uploading to Blackboard. The Creative Studio can provide phone and email guidance about how to edit sound and video content.

    Leverage library materials: Instead of creating new content, leverage existing learning resources for students to engage with. Curated by UM librarians and experts-in-training, Research Guides point you to library materials and resources appropriate for particular disciplines, courses, and special topics. Work with librarians ahead of time to develop course research guides to assist students in finding digital information resources. Connect students with specific articles or cases from News and Newspaper Content, or locate relevant databases according to your subject, or format (video, images, primary sources).

    Link or embed videos within your Blackboard course: For video materials, you can link specific videos or make playlists using LinkedIn Learning (LIL), Kanopy system, or NBC Learn Higher Ed which you embed into Blackboard Courses. Other notable video platforms include TEDTalks or Khan Academy. Some platforms also offer offline access via a mobile application.

    Repurpose open digital learning materials: Open educational resources (OERs) are instructional materials that are published and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. OER textbooks, course materials and assignments are available via a collection of repositories: the OER Commons, The OrangeGrove, OpenStax, Open Textbook Network, LibreTexts, MERLOT, AMSER and the Open Course Library.

  • Planning for Learning Exercises and Assessment

    Plan for online and offline classroom learning exercises that allow flexibility due to illness or limited access to digital resources. Each course will have its own learning objectives, so activities will depend on a variety of factors. We recommend starting small and building upon your existing teaching practice, leveraging technologies and preparing for a no-connection campus if University platforms are offline.

    Post a coursework statement in Blackboard: Establish expectations with students about University closures, how coursework will be handled during and following an emergency closure. Within this statement, clarify what modes of instruction may be used during emergency closure - new, unfamiliar approaches may impact student learning during an already stressful time.

    Review the course schedule and syllabus: Review the pace of instruction and examine what your teaching and learning priorities are during the closure (e.g. sharing lectures, facilitating discussion, collecting assignments, engagement in learning exercises). Adjust due dates to accommodate anticipated lost time, and still provide accountability for students to meet deadlines.

    Collect assignments through Blackboard: The Assignments tool allows faculty to collect papers, responses to assigned reading, reports, projects, presentations or other text or file-based assignments through Blackboard. Once an assignment is created, a column is added to the Grade Center for faculty to review, respond and grade submissions. This short video and guide describes how to set up an assignment and provide feedback.

    Expand upon existing assessments: For papers that require on-campus research and engagement with tangible materials, faculty can focus on assigning some components such as annotated bibliographies, concept maps, outlines or presentation of resources (see exercises prepared by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Having students prepare portfolios of work can allow flexibility for students who need to catch up during a closure. For example, faculty can request case study responses, digital notebooks with problem-based assignments, journal reflections, or design sketches.

    Implement academic integrity assessment tools: Faculty members shifting to teaching courses remotely may be interested in incorporating teaching technologies that promote students’ academic integrity in their quizzes, tests, and written work. The University of Miami offers a number of technology platforms to promote academic integrity, this page outlines key resources available to faculty and students.

    Facilitate and conduct student discussions online with a discussion forum: Using the Blackboard Discussion Board, faculty can create a forum where students can create a post and respond to their peers with text, files, images, video and audio. Task students to meaningfully post responses to readings, engage in a debate, share presentations, or submit the introduction to a paper for peer feedback. Set expectations about responses to peers, such as clarification questions, offering additional or alternative arguments and evidence. This short video and guide describes how to set up a forum (individual and group) to assess and grade participation. 

    Continue group projects and activities with communication tools: Create a shared folder for each group to edit in Google Drive or OneDrive - students can continue to share files and demonstrate their portfolio of work and you can monitor their progress. Students can also work together on documents collaboratively via Google Docs or create group presentations with Google Slides. If you plan to host a virtual conference, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom allows you create breakout groups, so you assign students to groups to work together in real-time. Pairs or dyads of students can also email drafts of work to each other, with faculty cc’d.

    Prepare sample data for lab based work and data analysis: For lab-based coursework that requires data analysis and in-class research, prepare sample datasets students can analyze using offline desktop applications or procedures. For students unable to complete lab exercises, but still need to complete reports, students can watch experiments via the Journal of Visualized Experiments or use simulated virtual labs. For field-trip based assignments, 360VR videos allow students engage with real-life locations via a web-browser, from platforms such as Alexander Street, Within and YouTube.

    Create a student-generated media assignment: Assign an independent assignment that allows students to generate a multimodal resource based on a course topic or assignment (e.g. presentation, infographic, video, podcast, website, report). This assignment can be completed off-campus, and offline using desktop apps from Office365 or Adobe Creative Suite. Featuring resources designed by educators, Adobe Education Exchange is a free learning platform and community with lesson plans, assignments and courses.

  • Sharing Feedback and Grades with Students Confidentially

    During campus closures or disruption, ensure transparency of student progress digitally where possible. Providing grades and feedback for assignments allows you to monitor student interaction and completion of online and manually graded activities.

    Prepare grades offline: Prepare and download a backup working copy of your gradebook, via Canelink gradebook, or download grade data from Blackboard.

    Communicate grades and feedback via Blackboard Learn: The Blackboard Grade Center is a central location to share grades and feedback with students. You can also provide feedback comments for each assignment that students can view. This playlist will help you become familiar with setting up your gradebook and communicating grades with students. 

    Advise students to keep copies of all assignments and grades for their records. Recommend students download CaneLink and Blackboard app to keep track of their grades.

  • Additional Resources


    University of Miami Libraries: In addition to online access to the library catalog, databases, and research guides, UM libraries also provides “Ask a librarian” chat service for reference and research questions, and phone or email consultations with subject librarians.

    LPT YouTube Channel: The Learning Platforms Team maintains and updates their YouTube channel with relavent resources connected to Blackboard Learn and other learning tools.

    Teaching Online Workshop: Enroll and engage with resources in the Distance Learning Institute's Teaching Online Workshop. To gain access to this workshop, view the instructions to self-enroll here.


    Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR): The University of Central Florida's Center for Distributed Learning offers the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) as a public resource that includes downloadable online and blended teaching strategies.

    Case Study Directory: Yale School of Management provides over 400 case studies within their directory, for the integrated and global business curriculum.

    LibreTexts: LibreTexts is an online textbook platform that has a variety of subject-based ‘bookshelves’ featured, including links to interactive web-based tutorials and simulations (e.g. Chemistry’s Interactive Tools)

    Rapid Transition to Online Learning Course: RTOL: Rapid Transition to Online Learning is an emergency roadmap for a rapid transition to remote learning during forced school closures. This one-hour program will walk you through a simple step-by-step guide to maintain your continuity of teaching and learning in a crisis.

    Language Panda: Language Panda is a crowd-sourced, searchable database for teaching of foreign languages with digital resources. The materials, projects, and assignments found on this site are the products of instructors that wish to engage in an ongoing dialog about what it means to teach in the digital age by sharing their lessons and feedback with other teachers.

    Chem Collective Virtual Labs: The Virtual Lab is an online simulation of a chemistry lab. The lab allows students to select from hundreds of standard reagents (aqueous) and manipulate them in a manner resembling a real lab.

    Science by Simulation: Science by Simulation features simulation and analysis tools that include powerful virtual labs and analytical platforms.

    Digital drawing tools for chemical structures: Reaxys, ChemSpider, and SciFinder (accessible by creating an account) provide built-in, on-screen drawing tools (like MarvinJS) for chemical structures.

    PhET Interactive Simulations: PhET Interactive Simulations are free online simulations and teaching activities for Physics, Chemistry, Math, Earth Science, and Biology (site has simulations for all grade levels; link takes you to simulations designed for university students).

    eScienceLabs: eScienceLabs is a fee-based service that will work with faculty to create custom online and hands-on lab kits for your course.


    Advice guides and opinion pieces on online learning: “Moving Online Now: How to Keep Teaching during Coronavirus.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2020.

Free Textbook Access from Publishers and Content Providers

As an alternative to scanning/digitizing existing physical textbook resources, a number of major textbook publishers and content distributors have offered to make textbooks and course materials free in electronic form to students through May 25, 2020. This will allow students to access digital textbooks and resources for free the remainder of the semester. Note that some publishers’ materials are not available on mobile devices or through outdated web browsers, and not all courseware, homework managers, or online platforms may be free during this time.

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  • RedShelf

    RedShelf is offering free access to up to seven eBooks from participating publishers to University of Miami students and faculty members.  RedShelf is the primary digital provider of Follett, UM’s official bookstore partner. Students and faculty can follow these steps to obtain access to supported text materials.

    1. Create an account: Visit RedShelf and fill in the credentials, using your email. You will be sent an account activation email to click on and validate your account before you can access any eBooks. If you experience login issues, view Redshelf’s help guide.
    2. Search and add available eBooks: Using the search tool, type in your textbook title, or ISBN number. From the results, click ‘View Details’ and ‘Add to My Shelf.’ 
    3. Access your eBooks: You can access your shelf at any time by clicking on your Account name and clicking ‘My Shelf.’
    4. Review eBooks features: Each eBook offers different features such as printing, offline access, digital notes, and copying and pasting resources. To review this information, access ‘My Shelf’ and ‘click ‘View Book Details.’
    5. Review guides and support options: Redshelf has a knowledge base to help students and faculty navigate the Redshelf platform. Review the Getting Started and Using Your Ebook help guides.

  • Pearson/VitalSource

    VitalSource Helps is a program designed to support students and instructors who may have lost access to course materials due to a campus moving to distance learning to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The program offers free access for up to seven eBooks through May 25, 2020 to UM students and instructors. Content from publishers that is interactive and/or used for assessment purposes, often referred to as “courseware”, is not included. Courseware items commonly known are Pearson MyLab, Cengage MindTap, WileyPlus / NextGen, etc.

    1. Create an account: Go to and click on “Create a VitalSource account.” You must create an account using your UM email. You will be sent an account activation email to click on and validate your account before you can access any eBooks. If you are having login issues, contact VitalSource support team
    2. Search and add available eBooks:  Using the Explore tab, type in your textbook title, or ISBN number.  From the results, you can see all “Book Matches.” For your eBook, click, “Borrow.”
    3. Access your eBooks: You can access your shelf at any time by clicking on the “Library” tab and accessing, “My Books.” 
    4. Review eBooks features: Each eBook offers features such as printing, digital notes, highlighting, creating flashcards, and reading aloud. To view a book offline, you will need to download the BookShelf app
    5. Review guides and support options: VitalSource has a support guide for users along with resources specifically for higher education in regards to online courses. Review the FAQ for students and instructors on using VitalSource Bookshelf. 

  • Free Access to Courseware and Instructional Guides

    The following publishers are also offering free access to courseware to faculty and students throughout the duration of the 2020 Spring semester (and Fall semester, for some publishers).

    Wiley is offering access to courseware including WileyPLUS or Knewton Alta. Faculty can request access to a course by completing the online form. 

    Cengage Unlimited, (eBooks, online courseware, study tools) are available for free to instructors and students. Access the latest resources for faculty and students.

    McGraw-Hill Connect and ALEKS (courseware for mathematics, accounting, statistics, and chemistry) are available for free to instructors and students. To request access, instructors will need to review the guidance and contact their local representative.

    Macmillan is offering access to digital tools LaunchPad, Sapling, iClicker, or FlipIt (available to new users only). Faculty can search the catalogue for available resources connected to their Macmillan textbook/course and contact their local representative.

    Norton is providing free access to online courseware online courseware products, InQuizitive and Smartwork. Norton eBooks are also available through RedShelf or VitalSource. Access the latest information. 

    Pearson has shared various free instructional guides and resources related to their products. Access the latest information.

    Elsevier has shared various free instructional guides and resources related to their products, particularly for clinical, nursing and healthcare education. Access the latest information.

  • Support for Unavailable Textbooks

    If a textbook is unavailable through any of these options, faculty members are encouraged to  consult with their subject librarians in the UM Libraries to explore other possibilities, including Open Educational Resources. 

    The University of Miami bookstore administration is still working during the campus closure; if you have any questions about textbook adoptions or availability, reach out to Wendy Smith (, Manager of the U|Campus Store.

Accommodating Students in Online Courses

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the University must make reasonable attempts to ensure online/remote/distance learning courses are accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Office of Disability Services has issued guidance to University of Miami faculty members regarding the accommodation request process, the types of accommodations, and engaging in communicating with students regarding their accommodations.